Upstart Review

ADVERTISING DISCLOSURE

Upstart is an online-only lender that factors in additional non-traditional metrics, such as major, GPA, and employment history, to determine your loan eligibility and rates. Their products are best for those with average or no credit history.

Overall
3.9
  • Cost
  • Customer Service
  • Interest Rates
  • Repayment Options

Summary

Upstart is an online-only lender that factors additional non-traditional metrics, such as major, GPA, and employment history, to determine your loan eligibility and rates. Their products seem to be best for those with average or no credit history since these applicants might not even be approved elsewhere. Though, they can have hefty fees and high interest rates.

Pros

  • APRs as low as 4.66%
  • Applicants with little credit history can apply
  • No prepayment fees
  • Stellar customer service

Cons

  • APRs as high as 35.99%
  • Loans not offered in West Virginia or Iowa
  • Origination fees from 0 – 8%
  • Late payment fees, greater of 5% due or $15
  • Minimum credit score of 600 needed

What Is Upstart?

Upstart is an online lender that uses unique metrics to determine your creditworthiness. Launched in 2012 by ex-Googlers, they use artificial intelligence (AI) to underwrite loans for more Americans. Upstart has since originated $6.7 billion in loans and automated 70% of all loan applications. 

Their technology has proven enormously successful, leading to 75% fewer defaults at the same approval rate as other firms. Moreover, they’ve been able to approve 27% more borrowers than other lenders using the standard models. 

Upstart is truly an innovative and entrepreneurial firm seeking to break the standard loan industry traditions. They offer personal loans for all sorts of purposes, ranging from home improvement to medical to wedding loans. 

How Does Upstart Work?

For the most part, Upstart’s loan application process is pretty standard. They’ll ask you for your credit score, income, debt, and assets. However, their novel twist is their machine learning algorithm.

Upstart separates itself from its competition through its AI-based model that gauges more than the typical lender. For example, Upstart also asks for your education, job history, major, and residence to introduce new variables that could swing approval odds and interest rates in your favor. 

For instance, say you have no credit history, but you study a major with a high median salary. Upstart might still approve you, predicting that you should have the repayment capabilities in the future. Regular lenders would probably just straight up reject you. 

Now say you had a good credit history, excellent grades, and past employment history. You’ll be more likely to be given a more competitive loan with lower rates than what other lenders can offer. 

Upstart has a reputation for approving those with little to no credit history. Typical credit scoring models would almost immediately ax these applicants. Differently, Upstart’s algorithm allows these people to be appropriately analyzed and judged for factors outside just their credit score. 

As a firm, they believe that you are more than just your credit score.

Through their innovative tech, Upstart has been able to bring more loans to a wider variety of Americans. Truly a forward-facing firm seeking to break the traditional lending methods.

Upstart Rates, Terms, and Fees Summary

While Upstart has introduced new, innovative perspectives into the lending market, they charge hefty fees. Origination fees can range from 0 to 8%, and they have one of the highest maximum APRs we’ve seen. For example, someone with a poor credit history could end up with a loan with an APR around 35%—that’s a ridiculously high rate. 

Moreover, Upstart doesn’t allow co-signers; they only let you loan for three and five-year term lengths and for amounts between $1,000 and $50,000. Be aware of the various limitations imposed when trying to get an Upstart personal loan.

According to Upstart, the average three-year loan APR was about 20%. 

Upstart Personal Loans Rates, Terms, and Fees Summary
Fixed Rates (APR)4.66–35.99%
Loan Terms3 and 5 years
Loan Amounts$1,000 to $50,000
FeesOrigination and late payment fees
Payment FrequencyMonthly
Co-signersNone allowed
ResidencyU.S. Resident or permanent resident

Pros & Cons Of Upstart

Upstart’s novel credit algorithm has allowed them to issue loans to a wider span of applicants. However, they have competitive rates on the low end and horribly high APRs on the other side. Though, a huge pro is their ability to parse through applicants with little to no credit history.

They also have one of the best customer ratings we’ve seen as well. Unfortunately, Upstart doesn’t offer loans in every state.

Pros:

  • APRs as low as 4.66%
  • Maximum loans of $50,000
  • Applicants with little to no credit history can apply
  • No prepayment fees
  • Stellar customer reviews

Cons:

  • APRs as high as 35.99%
  • Loans not offered in West Virginia or Iowa
  • Must loan a minimum of $1,000*
  • Origination fees from 0 – 8%
  • Late payment fees, greater of 5% due or $15
  • Minimum credit score of 600 needed
  • No co-signers

*Minimum loans vary slightly by state. The minimums in MA, OH, NM, and GA are $7,000, $6,000, $5,100, and $3,100. 

How Do I Qualify For Upstart Loans?

Remember that the beautiful thing about Upstart is that they’re willing to look at applicants with little to no credit history. However, if you do have sufficient credit history, generally, a score of 600 is required at a minimum.

Financial Requirements

  • Must have a regular source of income or prove you have a job offer in the coming six months making at least $12,000
  • If you have a credit history, a score of 600 is generally required at minimum
  • Look to get a loan of at least $1,000*
  • No recent bankruptcies or delinquent loans 
  • No more than six recent hard inquiries 

Individual Requirements

  • US citizen or a permanent resident
  • Don’t live in Iowa or West Virginia

*Minimum loans vary slightly by state. The minimums in MA, OH, NM, and GA are $7,000, $6,000, $5,100, and $3,100.

What Are Upstart Repayment Options?

Unfortunately, Upstart offers limited loan terms for only 3 and 5 years. You can make your payments monthly electronically or via mail-in check. Furthermore, if you want to pay off your loan early or make larger payments, there are no fees.

Generally speaking, the shorter the loan term, the lower the APR you’ll end up with, and the less money you’ll end up paying in the long run. 

Who Should Use Upstart?

We think that Upstart is best for those with average credit scores or little to no credit history. Since Upstart will look at you even if you have a nonexistent credit history, they might approve your loan if no other lender will.

However, if you have a more robust credit history, you should gauge all your options. Upstart has extensive origination fees and somewhat high-interest rates that can be unappealing if you have better options.  Firms like Earnest and LendKey might have lower fees.

Will Upstart Hurt My Credit Score?

The answer is yes, and no.

During the loan matching process, Upstart only does a “soft inquiry” on your credit history. “Soft pulls” do not affect your credit score.

However, if you choose to finalize a loan and sign the dotted line, you could temporarily hurt your credit score. The lender will do a “hard inquiry,” which gives a thorough and complete report on your entire credit history. 

Though, “hard inquiries” have a small effect on your credit score. Your credit score only factors inquiries for 10%. Moreover, these pulls only stay on your credit report for a maximum of 24 months. Therefore, your credit score will go back to normal pretty quickly.

How Is Upstart’s Customer Service?

Upstart has some of the best consumer reviews we’ve seen.

Over 6,000 Trustpilot reviews rate Upstart 4.9/5.0 stars. Clients noted that Upstart’s process was “quick, easy, and wonderful,” and that everything went “smoothly.” Moreover, Upstart has been an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau since 2015, even scoring the elusive “A+” rating. 

They are indeed a business that emphasizes the customer experience.

You can contact Upstart via email or phone. Their calling hours are as follows:

  • Mon – Fri, 9 AM – 8 PM ET
  • Sat & Sun, 9 AM – 8 PM ET

What I Wish Was Different About Upstart

Generally speaking, Upstart is a fantastic platform and company. There’s not too much I would change except for a few minor things:

  • A slightly more transparent website displaying more information
  • Better rates for those with excellent credit scores
  • Lower origination fees

Though Upstart is still an excellent place for those with average or nonexistent credit scores.

How To Get Started On Upstart

Like previous consumers have cited, Upstart is really easy to use.

The entire process is online, and you’ll need to give them your personal information, including your name, social security number, and income. Given Upstart’s unique model, you’ll also need to provide them with your academics, major, GPA, and prior employment history to weigh if you’re eligible for better rates or approval. 

If you prequalify, you can see your quote and then proceed with finalizing your loan. The final steps may require you to submit documents to prove some information, such as your transcript. Finally, you just need to sign the dotted line. 

You can apply for your loan end-to-end on Upstart’s website. A smooth, clean process.

Are There Referral Bonuses?

Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case. If you’re looking to take advantage of referral bonuses, you might want to take a look into the likes of Earnest.

Should You Use Upstart

I think Upstart is an excellent choice, especially if you have an average or little to no credit score. Most traditional lenders might not even approve you or provide terrible rates, whereas Upstart will weigh non-traditional variables to help your approval odds and rates.

Furthermore, given that you can get a quote free of charge, there’s no real downside to not at least trying out Upstart. Their customer service is truly incredible, and they’re more than willing to help you through the process.

However, even if you get an offer with Upstart, make sure you look through all your options. You never know if a competing lender like Earnest or LendKey has better personal loan options. 

FAQs

How long does it take for my money to arrive once I get approved?

Once your loan is accepted, your money will arrive by the next business day if you signed before 5 PM ET Monday through Friday. This is a rapid turnaround! 

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